The National Trust has created a new apprenticeship scheme to combat the shortage of heritage building skills.

woodcarver Saloon at UpparkRupert Truman/NTPL

The programme, which begins in September, offers 16 positions at Trust properties across the country. Apprentices will be paid £12,000 a year and their college and tuition fees will be covered.

The traditional skills taught include stone masonry, carpentry, joinery, lead work, plumbing, painting and decorating.

Apprentices will be encouraged to learn from staff due to retire, so that valuable skills are passed on to the next generation.

Of the Trust’s current 130 labour staff, almost 19% are due to retire within four years, rising to 25% in six years.

Kingston Lacy, DorsetChris King/NTPL

Rory Culle, the Trust’s head of building, said: ‘The severe shortage of people with heritage building skills has made it extremely difficult for the Trust to recruit appropriate staff, and this situation is common to the industry as a whole.

‘We have responsibility for the upkeep of more listed and historic structures than anyone else, so we’re in a prime position to generate awareness of the issue and take action to address it.’

carpenter at Scotney CastleChris King/NTPL

Philip Venning, secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, added: ‘The National Trust has a huge range of different kinds of building, and this scheme will give the apprentices a unique chance to learn from some of the best in the field.

‘Well done to the National Trust for an initiative that will have a wider benefit for the nation’s architectural heritage, both now and for many years to come.’

Places on the scheme are offered on a three-year contract basis. To apply, telephone 01793 817799 or visit www.ntjobs.org.uk

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